Langley Inside and Out
All about the City of Langley from The Record and other sources
The Administration’s Finance Committee has been hard at work on the 2011 budget for the last two months, and their work is about to come to the Council. This budget is going to involve some major decisions and I hope the community will get more involved than usual.
The good news, given what’s been going on in the national economy, is that it appears that revenue for the city is starting to stabilize. The challenge is that this level is almost 20% below where we were in 2008, and the past two years have left us with no reserves in the General Fund. In order to adjust to these new times, we may well need to make some structural changes in the services and goods that the city provides.
As Council grapples with how best to make these changes, we want to hear from you about your priorities. What are the items at the top of your list that the city should continue or even expand/strengthen? Where would you look first for things to reduce or cut?
I’ve learned during my time on the Council that these issues are often more complex than I first thought due to such things as unfunded state and federal mandates and various state law requirements. So there may be reasons why we can’t do what might seem like the obvious steps, but hearing your priorities helps as we focus our creative problem-solving and question assumptions. We’ll need your input to do this job well.
In the last few days the Mayor and Council have gotten a number of quite lovely and heartfelt emails of support for the work we are all doing to enable a healthy future for our community. I want to say a big public “thank you” to those who have done so — it is definitely nourishing in these often challenging times.
We also get emails that are more focused on specific concerns, some clearly unhappy with what they feel the Mayor and Council are doing, (although there haven’t been any in the past few weeks) and I want to appreciate these as well. Clearly the writers care about the community, and we all have things to learn from each other.
So they’re all good — and please keep sending all of them. We may not respond directly to each one but we read them all, and regardless of the orientation of the content, the caring you put into them makes a positive difference for our community.
This new venue for communication should prove valuable as the council works through the difficult issues facing Langley. I look forward to participating more frequently once I return from my part time job as a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.
If you have been wondering, “What is happening at the city?” check out my Mayor’s Message on the City of Langley website. This is information I shared at a council meeting in mid-August as we prepared to talk about the 2011 city budget.
Mayor Paul frequently speaks of Langley’s “hope and possibility” as he talks about the town he loves.
Our town’s “hope and possibility” was alive with DjangoFest these past five days. Gypsy jazz was in the air as it floated throughout Langley — coffee and jazz; WICA and jazz; Middle School and jazz; sidewalks and jazz; restaurants and jazz; bars and jazz. Strumming guitarists, vocalists, violinists, and flautists flooded Langley’s streets with their subtle and sweet sounds. To enjoy Langley’s festive flavor visitors and locals alike filled the sidewalks, eateries and shops to make merry for five music filled days.
In Sharen Health’s words:
“Wow! Simon and I walked up Second Street Sunday morning and all of Second’s cafes were buzzing with customers. It was great for businesses.”
I believe that the best way to answer the questions that the community has regarding city finances and city hall functions is with an independent audit.
Tip of the hat to Hal Seligson for suggesting this to me at the Soup Box Derby, recently.
At the next city council meeting I will bring a proposal to discuss an independent audit. The discussion will focus on the following two areas:
- What type of independent audit do we need?
- What timeframe should the independent audit cover?
Since we are planning the 2011 budget, this is the best and right time to discuss this.
I have to be honest, I view this blog as both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it gives us an opportunity to provide insight, context and commentary about the hot topics of the day, as they pertain to Langley. Never before has there been a need for this. In fact, its very existence is core to my beliefs about New Media, citizen journalism, the “5th Estate,”** etc.
However, it’s a curse because, quite honestly, I don’t have the time to nurture this the way I’d like. I’d like nothing better to spend the time filling in what I feel is often intentionally left out of recent reporting. I just don’t have the time.
As it is, I have two guest blog obligations that I’m not keeping up with, as well as two blogs for my business, and everything else I have to do related to my business.
And yet, the need for providing additional points of view has never been greater. I’ll do what I can, when I can, to share here.
When I do share, I do it with the understanding that there’s a part of the population that, no matter what, will not trust what I say, as an elected. They’ll pigeonhole it as “wagging the dog.” There’s nothing I can do about it. That’s politics.
I also understand that there’s a part of the population that, pretty unflinchingly, will believe everything that I say. And I appreciate that. I really do. That’s the base of support that anyone in a position like this needs to get through the day.
Then, there’s a much larger group than either of the previous two combined. This group is dealing with the gray area of wondering who to believe.
Do they believe the reporting that they’re reading in the community paper? Do they believe the anonymous posters in the comments sections of the community paper? Do they believe what they’re hearing from us, their electeds?
Editorially, it’s this larger, middle ground group who I’ll be primarily addressing when I publish here.
*I will be using headings such as COMMENTARY, OPINION, REPORTING at the top of each of my posts to clearly identify the nature of the content.
** The “5th Estate” is a term that’s being increasingly used in reference to the world of citizen journalism. The emergence of the 5th Estate is compelling, as its role ranges from the symbiotic relationship that citizen journalists have with the 4th Estate, i.e. traditional journalism, to the role of the 5th Estate as the “guardian of the guardian.”
I am very excited that we now have a place where we can individually share our perspectives about what we think, how we feel and share unfiltered facts directly with the citizens of Langley. It’s my goal to communicate to the Langley community what I perceive is going on in City Government.
I believe truth is personal and that each person sees things from their own perspective. I will try to share my truth as I see it sitting on the council, attending each meeting, listening and reading various viewpoints and trying to find my way through to thoughtful decisions that impact us all. I encourage you to contact me if you have further thoughts about what I write or want more clarification.
As the newest member of the Langley City Council, I would like to thank each of you for giving me this opportunity to serve my city. The work, since I was appointed to the Council this summer, has been demanding, complex and exceedingly time consuming. At times it has been discouraging. At other times stimulating. But at all times, it has been a learning adventure.
Having been involved in politics much of my life, what I know is the government process is messy, slow and often frustrating. Decision-making is complex with the need to keep an alert eye on the many elements of any issue. It’s a dance of balancing economic rights against environmental concerns; honoring one person’s ideal of community while weighing it against another’s ideal; maintaining an open mind about the impacts of any decision; having a sensitivity to the knowledge that 1000 people will have 1000 ideas of how things should or should not be done.
I am honored to be a council member. Please stop me on the street for a discussion, e-mail me with ideas, or call me with questions. I look forward to hearing from you.